Ticks and Cats – What You Need to Know (July 2019)

Well, it’s officially summer, so you know what that means – the ticks are out in full force.

Even if your cat is a strictly indoor cat, ticks can still make their way into your home and latch onto her.

Ticks will latch onto humans and go all over the place, so it’s important to know what to look for, how to remove them, and all the other important bits.

Ticks are able to survive in the winter months, but they aren’t as much of a threat as they are during the summer months. The “fact” that ticks aren’t around in the winter is a total myth.

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are a parasitic arachnid that feed on the blood of cats, dogs, humans, you name it.

They carry a number of diseases that can be transferred to cats through the process of them latching on and feeding on the blood, which can take days before they’re full.

Ticks are found mostly in grassy, woodland-filled areas, but they can make their way into cities, as well.

The Different Types of Ticks

Unfortunately, there are a handful of species of ticks that span across North America.

  • American Dog
  • Black-Legged / Deer
  • Brown Dog
  • Groundhog
  • Gulf Coast
  • Lone Star
  • Rocky Mountain Wood
  • Soft
  • Western Black-Legged

The species listed above are the most common, but there are a lot more out there.

The Dangers of Ticks on a Cat

Though a single tick may not present much of a problem on its own, there is still the chance of your cat becoming infected with one of the many diseases they are known to carry.

Listed below are tick-borne diseases that pose a threat to your cat:

  • Lyme Disease
  • Tularemia
  • Tick Paralysis
  • Haemobartonellosis
  • Babesiosis – Piroplasmosis
  • Cytauxzoonosis

These are only a few of the many tick-borne diseases that affect cats.

A cat overrun with ticks will experience feline infectious anemia. If a cat is overrun with ticks, however, there is typically an underlining issue that needs to be addressed.

Ticks can be removed by a cat through the grooming process, so if ticks aren’t being removed, your cat isn’t grooming herself as she should be and needs to see a vet.

How to Tell if Your Cat Has a Tick

The best way to tell if your cat has a tick is to actively search her body. Run your fingers through her fur against the grain and really get in there.

Ticks tend to latch onto the feet, ears, neck, and heads of cats, so make sure you check those areas thoroughly.

Depending on their age, they can be big or small. They have egg-shaped bodies that are either white, black, brown, or a mix of colors.

How to Safely Remove a Tick From a Cat

If you think you can just pull it off and be done with it, think again.

Ticks latch on incredibly well. They bury their heads in to get as much blood as they can, so just snatching one off your cat is a big no-no.

Doing so can leave the head in the cat’s skin. If you cause the tick to explode because you pulled and made it pop, blood from the tick can go straight into your cat’s body through the feeding point.

The best way to remove a tick is to use fine-tipped tweezers to remove it. Try to get as close to the skin, where the tick’s head will be, as possible to ensure a clean removal.

If the tick isn’t releasing from the body, keep applying light pressure until it does let go.

Again, don’t squeeze the tweezers too hard or the body will explode.

Once it’s out, make sure you clean the area it was latched onto. Wash the area, your hands, the tweezers, everything.

You can dispose of it simply by flushing it down the toilet.

How to Prevent Ticks on Your Cat

There are a lot of tick medications out there than can help you keep ticks away from your cat, but it’s best to talk to your vet and figure out what the right one for your cat as an individual is.

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